Newsletter :: July 2016
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Don't Follow Your Passion 

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reinsl”                                             
                                                                                                   :: Ben Franklin (1706 - 1790)

One of the most common sayings of American life is the dictum to follow your passion. There are many variants on this advice, including: Do what you love and the money will follow, and it may even have its roots in the old Latin aphorism Carpe Diem (Seize the Day). 

In a book by Cal Newport titled So Good They Can't Ignore You, it is suggested this nugget is not only misguided, but may be downright hazardous to your happiness:
"Not only is the cliché flawed - preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work - but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping." 

Newport's take is contrarian, provocative and above all highly compelling. In explaining why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love, he states:

"Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it." 

Unlike many self-help books which urge us to only summon the courage to live our dreams, Newport's deep research outlines four rules for building our Career Capital, and making prudent decisions about how we might evaluate our work and its contribution to the world. 

You might find this an interesting read, especially if you are one to take a different view of the world around you.  You might consider sharing it with young people in your lives who are preparing to enter the job market. Who knows, it might even spark you to evaluate and enhance your own relationship with your present career.

With that ....... enjoy this month's newsletter.
A Contrarian View Adds Perspective
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July 2016 Newsletter | Maine Home Connection

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July Real Estate Sales Update
Slight Slowdown in Sales Anticipated

U.S. home resales fell more than expected in July after four straight months of strong gains as a lack of inventory limited choice for buyers, but further gains in prices suggested the housing market remained on solid ground.

According to The National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home sales declined 3.2% to an annual rate of 5.39 million units last month. June's sales pace was unrevised at 5.57 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales slipping 0.4% to a 5.51 million-unit pace in July. Home resales were down 1.6% from a year ago.

Against the backdrop of a tightening labor market that is steadily pushing up wages and mortgage rates near historically low levels, most experts agree that July's drop in sales is likely to be temporary.

With inventory still tight, the median house price nationally rose 5.3% from a year ago to $244,100 last month. Interestingly, rising prices were causing problems with appraisals, leading to delays in closing contracts.

Our Backyard

Single family home sales through July are up 12.8% statewide and 6.7% in Cumberland County.  The month of July represented the first time in 2016 that sales for a specific month did not exceed that of the prior year.  Unit sales were lower by 2.9%.  As a point of comparison, sales across the Northeast declined 5.7% in July. 

While sales in Cumberland County are up year-over-year, July represented the second consecutive months that 2016 sales were below 2015, fueling some speculation of a small slowdown in the market.  While some parts of Maine have demonstrated a higher percentage of growth this year, Cumberland County nonetheless accounts for the largest segment of the market, representing 25.7%.  York and Cumberland Counties collectively represent nearly 44% of all sales in Maine.

YTD median prices for both Maine and Cumberland County are still ahead of 2015 results, yet both experienced a slight decline from June.  While $198,000 for Maine and $279,400 for Cumberland County, both represented the second highest level ever recorded, both experienced a decline of less than ½ of a percent.

The graph below includes sales for many local communities. Given the overall strength of the market this year, it may be a bit surprising that quite a few towns are experiencing lower sales in 2016 vs 2015.  Of course, 2016 results are being compared to record levels of sales reported in 2015, which can make this comparison somewhat difficult. 

Inventory & Pending Properties

Nationally, total housing inventory at the end of July rose ever so slightly - 0.9% to 2.13 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 5.8% lower than a year ago (2.26 million) and has now declined year-over-year for 14 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, which is up from 4.5 months in June.

In Maine, inventory increased 1.2% from June, while 18.0% below July 2015.  While 19.1% below last year, inventory in Cumberland County increased a surprising 5.5% in July 2016 versus June 2016.  In fact, the July inventory level is at its highest for all of 2016.

The percentage of pending properties, compared to inventory levels, declined in July, representing the lowest level since February 2016.  This reflects an overall slowdown in properties under contract and will impact sales in the months to come, especially if this trend continues. is updated each month with the latest sales statistics.  You can access this information by town at Local Communities, or try our Interactive Sales Chart. If you don't see what you are looking for, we can prepare a custom report for you. 
Featured Listings
36 Oakmont Drive
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Portland Pizza Offerings Recognized Nationally
Not All Pies are Created Equally
Pizza in Maine has come a long way.  After living in NYC many years ago, we were spoiled.  While Portland seems to be appearing on just about every “best of” list, it was good to see that Esquire Magazine’s  list of  America’s Best Cities for Pizza included our adopted city of Portland.

Highlighted was Otto’s and their dedication to using local ingredients and somewhat bizarre combinations like mashed potato, bacon and scallion (which by the way is surprisingly good).  Also getting a mention were the Sicilian offering at Micucci Grocery and Slab.

For the entire list (including the worst cities as well), visit: Pizza in Portland.

You might be surprised to see where Chicago is on the list!  
2016 Bubble Watch
Factors Affecting 2005 Market Decline Different

The national housing market has improved dramatically since the depths of the recession. Home prices in particular have grown significantly in recent years, nearing a full nominal recovery nationwide.  This is especially true in Maine as the median sold prices for single family homes have been at record levels during the last several months. 

With this significant amount of price appreciation, there has been considerable discussion about whether certain hot markets have entered into bubble territory again.

The graph below (Bloomberg) compares 10 US housing markets with the highest price escalation from 2005 through 2015. 

To complement this information, a more recent study of the 50 largest markets looked into six housing trends that were fundamental to the bubble years – and compared them to today’s real estate market.   This brief article concentrates on four of "red flags":
  1. Price to Rent Ratio
  2. Price to Income Ratio
  3. Mortgage Transactions
  4. House Flipping
All four categories were outside historical norms in 2005. Home prices were way above normal ratios when compared to both rents and incomes at the time. They explained that mortgage transactions as a percentage of all home sales were also at a higher percentage.  ...... Continue Reading.
None Dare Call It A Conspiracy
Vladimir Putin's Rise to Power Began Here

In 2009, GQ published this story about a series of apartment bombings that struck Moscow in September 1999. Condé Nast, however, fearing for the safety of those involved in the piece, refused to feature it online or distribute it in Russia.

With the permission of author Scott Anderson, Longform has reprinted the article in full. Reading through, it becomes easy to understand why the magazine kept the story, which presents evidence of a possible connection between Vladimir Putin’s rise to power and the bombings, close to home. 

The Unknown History:  Read Article
36 Oakmont Drive
Incorporating Drone & Real (No Slideshows) Video
36 Oakmont Dr | Falmouth Maine Real Estate
Visual content drives consumer engagement.  Online video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic.  Homes listed with video get four times the inquiries of homes listed without video. According to Forbes, 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text.

When it comes to marketing homes, no real estate agency in Maine does more than Maine Home Connection to ensure that your home is seen by the most potential buyers - in the best possible light. Imagine More!

Where Does Spam Come From?
Email is Small Fish 

Monty Python vikings may love spam, but for most of us it’s a bloomin’ nuisance with the potential for danger. Spam filters are a good deal better than they used to be but you can still count on spam finding its way into your inbox. Spamming is potentially very profitable, and there’s a silent war for your inbox going on every second of every day and night.

Since it costs so very little to send the same email to millions of email addresses, even one result in 10,000 emails can be a profitable business.  It’s interesting to see where these emails are being sent from, and sent to.

These days, email is the small fish of the spam business. Social media is where the real game is. Fake followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like are booming as users seek to artificially increase their follower numbers and engagement, and therefore their perceived legitimacy. How much of the internet is comprised of fake users?  Here is an illustrative infographic:

Premium Real Estate Service
Thinking of Selling?
Imagine More

Consider if Apple or Nike sold homes - what would that look like?  Our goal at Maine Home Connection is to deliver a level of premium marketing services that set a new standard in our local market.

Engaging HD videos, outstanding HDR photography, uncompromising online exposure, community networking, business relationships - all combine to deliver a customized and integrated marketing effort.

If you are thinking about taking advantage of current conditions and putting your home on the market, let's discuss how we can help you.  Or visit ......... My Home's Value
At Maine Home Connection
We Believe ........

............. that clients deserve more - more expertise, more care and more focus. We believe that real estate should be about you.  We believe in giving back.  We believe marketing should be memorable and meaningful.  We believe in premium coffee and premium real estate service.  We believe we can change real estate in Maine for the better - and every agent in our company is committed to these ideals.

Laura & Michael Sosnowski
Brokers | Owner
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Maine Home Connection
19 Commercial St | Portland ME 04101 | 207.517.3100